From team mates to marriage: Doncaster Belles players lift lid on relationship in new documentary

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They first met as team-mates on a football pitch – and shocked their fellow Doncaster Belles players when they got married in secret.

Now Jess and Lindsey Tugby-Andrew have lifted the lid on their relationship in a new documentary.

The pair are the subject of a show in the Behind The Ball YouTube series created by the FA Women's National League.

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In celebration of LGBTQ+ history month, the short film sees the married couple discuss their relationship and the impact of it on the pitch plus the importance of the support of the Belles family.

Jess and Lindsey first met as team-mates - and are now a married couple.Jess and Lindsey first met as team-mates - and are now a married couple.
Jess and Lindsey first met as team-mates - and are now a married couple.

The couple met while playing for the Division One North side before tying the knot in May 2023.

Doncaster-born-and-bred centre-back Jess first played for the Belles aged 16 and is the current captain of the squad while her other half fiery Lindsey, is a midfielder who signed for club in October 2021.

"I joined when the season had already started," said Lindsey. "Jess was captain at the time and she was friendly, but I think she was a little bit worried I was going to take her position on the pitch.

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"It was just one of those clichés, you didn't know it was going to happen moments. She's just 100 per cent my person.

"On the pitch, we're just like other players but sometimes she does have to moan at me.

"Games can get heated and I'm quite a passionate player and play with my heart on my sleeve so Jess is the voice of reason."

"Sometimes it can be quite difficult also being teammates and likely more difficult for Jess as she's the captain," she added.

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"I think she always has in the back of her mind that she needs to treat me just like everyone else and personally, it's taken me a while to understand that.

"But she's also helped me to understand myself more as a person and where I can grow on and off the pitch."

Jess returned to the Belles in 2019 after time away playing at college in the US and quickly rose through the ranks of her childhood club, made captain the same season that Lindsey joined.

And the level-headed defender tries to make sure what happens on the pitch stays on the pitch.

"I always try not to bring it back home," said Jess.

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"Sometimes you do though because you've always got different opinions of how training is, how games have gone and how performances have been and sometimes it can be quite difficult to switch off.

"So it's hard to find that boundary of leaving it at football."

As much as the sensible side of Jess always balances the impassioned side of Lindsey, it also works vice versa, with Lindsey revealing how she helps her wife bring out her emotional side.

"It's part of our marriage that I also help Jess learn to look after herself," she said.

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"She is pragmatic but it's ok to let it out, to be upset and vulnerable or whatever that emotion is so we definitely help each other."

"Lindsey has been there throughout my difficult times and I think she doesn't realise it sometimes because she's so rash," added Jess.

"When I need her, she will hold my hand and it's comforting that when I've had a difficult day, she's at home with the dogs and the cat to have a cuddle with and not even necessarily talk - just be there."

From getting married in secret to getting two puppies on a whim during a trip to Bridlington, the newly named Tugby-Andrews make decisions with their heart.

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"We got married in secret, so our teammates and families found out through an Instagram post," said Jess.

"It was quick and really nice because we had nothing but support from them all.

"To then see Tugby-Andrew on the team sheet though was weird and it's annoying when the fans might have Tugby-Andrew on the back of their shirt but it's not my number it's her number!"Changing their surname brought the realisation for many Belles fans that the two were in a relationship.

Now one of the only married couples playing together in the FA Women's National League and in the wider footballing landscape, the Tugby-Andrews are helping pave the way for LGBTQ+ representation by just being themselves.And the pair revealed that they could not have felt more supported from the club they both call home.

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"I don't think I would have had my name changed without the support from the Belles family," said Jess.

"I've struggled in the past with being gay and people knowing but people now obviously know because of the name change.

"Having that family support in the changing room is so important because we know we can go there and people accept us for us.

“We're just two footballers that turn up and want to play football."

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"Women's football has always been that safe space where I could find out who I was and just be me," added Lindsey.

"You now see that the game has progressed and evolved in a way that the fans are seeing it and bringing that normalisation which is key to squashing those negative stereotypes."

You can watch the documentary HERE

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